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Beyond Ratings or Quality. Surpassing the Dilemma of Entertainment in Public Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  18 a little while there was a sense that [in a low voice] ‘then those welders in the shipyards start shouting “faggot!”‘ . . . I said, hey guys, this is the year 2000! So even Emma, the most intractable, was fairly positive [with high voice] ‘if your job performance does not suffer from it, I wish you a good time together’. This was the year-2000-way of telling the coming out. Programs like The Naked Chef have made cooking ‘cool’ for boys. According to Brunsdon et al. (2001), these programs express a democratization of public service values, because they make available specific professional knowledge and specific ideals on taste, style, gender, family values, and ethics to the ‘man and woman in the street’. In addition to this ethical dimension, Schrøder (1993) identifies an ecstatic and an aesthetic dimension of quality. The ecstatic dimension concerns the extent to which the audience is moved by a program, while the aesthetic dimension applies to the degree in which a program makes the audience aware of the program’s constructedness and the aesthetic choices that have been made. Moderator vocabulary Finally, we identified the moderator vocabulary. A moderator’s professional function is to improve the communication between people, like a barkeeper who gets the conversations going or the hostess who introduces her guests to each other. A moderator facilitates conversations rather than pushing them into a certain direction. A key notion of the moderator vocabulary is that a program should stimulate communication among viewers. The program’s content is of secondary importance in this vocabulary. A telling example is the reversal in the appreciation of Big Brother. At first, journalists, columnists, and cultural critics dismissed this program, largely based on the logic of the artist vocabulary, as boring and raunchy, and even as ethically unacceptable and inhumane (Costera Meijer & Reesink, 2000). Yet after some time its moderating quality became more visible: Big Brother provided plenty of topics for discussion, at home as well as at school. To articulate the communicative quality of entertainment programs, I would like to identify four moderating functions that cater to viewers in their role of citizen and ‘enjoyer’ in particular: orientation, inspiration, representation, and identification (cf. Costera Meijer, 2000). Entertainment that provides orientation (a sense of direction) involves narratives that furnish viewers with tolls to reflect upon themselves and their relationships with others. The inspiring moment of entertainment is very well described by Richard Dyer (1992) as the utopian dimension of entertainment: ‘Two of the taken for granted descriptions of entertainment, as “escape” and as “wish- fulfilment”, point to its central thrust, namely, utopianism. Entertainment offers the

Authors: Meijer, Irene.
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18
a little while there was a sense that [in a low voice] ‘then those
welders in the shipyards start shouting “faggot!”‘ . . .
I said, hey
guys, this is the year 2000! So even Emma, the most intractable,
was fairly positive [with high voice] ‘if your job performance does not
suffer from it,
I wish you a good time together’. This was the year-
2000-way of telling the coming out.
Programs like The Naked Chef have made cooking ‘cool’ for boys. According
to Brunsdon et al. (2001), these programs express a democratization of public
service values, because they make available specific professional knowledge and
specific ideals on taste, style, gender, family values, and ethics to the ‘man and
woman in the street’. In addition to this ethical dimension, Schrøder (1993) identifies
an ecstatic and an aesthetic dimension of quality. The ecstatic dimension concerns
the extent to which the audience is moved by a program, while the aesthetic
dimension applies to the degree in which a program makes the audience aware of
the program’s constructedness and the aesthetic choices that have been made.
Moderator vocabulary
Finally, we identified the moderator vocabulary. A moderator’s professional function
is to improve the communication between people, like a barkeeper who gets the
conversations going or the hostess who introduces her guests to each other. A
moderator facilitates conversations rather than pushing them into a certain direction.
A key notion of the moderator vocabulary is that a program should stimulate
communication among viewers. The program’s content is of secondary importance in
this vocabulary. A telling example is the reversal in the appreciation of Big Brother. At
first, journalists, columnists, and cultural critics dismissed this program, largely based
on the logic of the artist vocabulary, as boring and raunchy, and even as ethically
unacceptable and inhumane (Costera Meijer & Reesink, 2000). Yet after some time
its moderating quality became more visible: Big Brother provided plenty of topics for
discussion, at home as well as at school.
To articulate the communicative quality of entertainment programs, I would
like to identify four moderating functions that cater to viewers in their role of citizen
and ‘enjoyer’ in particular: orientation, inspiration, representation, and identification
(cf. Costera Meijer, 2000). Entertainment that provides orientation (a sense of
direction) involves narratives that furnish viewers with tolls to reflect upon themselves
and their relationships with others. The inspiring moment of entertainment is very well
described by Richard Dyer (1992) as the utopian dimension of entertainment: ‘Two of
the taken for granted descriptions of entertainment, as “escape” and as “wish-
fulfilment”, point to its central thrust, namely, utopianism. Entertainment offers the


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